David Cameron opened his speech at the Conservative Party Conference listing what he called ‘British values’: freedom, justice, and standing up for what is right. It was with some amazement then that I had to scoop up my jaw from the floor after hearing that a Conservative government would scrap the Human Rights Act ‘once and for all’. I suppose that I should not be surprised by the reiteration of this longstanding Conservative policy, but it amazes me that at a time of international moral rhetoric, at a time of condemning Islamic State’s atrocities, and at a time of Britain rediscovering its moral compass, that this policy still holds purchase.

However, the hypocrisy does not end there. In the run up to next year’s general election the Conservatives will want to present themselves as the sensible and, above all, responsible party of government. Indeed, the accusations of Labour and UKIP’s populist policies have already begun to fly. Yet I must ask you, Mr Cameron, what is the scrapping of the Human Rights Act if not an absolute humdinger of a populist policy? The less scrupulous media outlets have long voiced their disgust at the foreign spectre of human rights and it seems to me that you have been listening.

Having stated that he would not have Britain wave cheerio to the largely British-drafted European Convention on Human Rights, I am struggling to see how Mr Cameron’s ‘British Bill of Rights’ would have any meaningful impact. Individuals would still have recourse to the Strasbourg Court who, contrary to popular belief, cannot strike down British law but can only issue a declaration of incompatibility with the Convention – a measure of political rather than legal pressure. This is precisely one of the things that the Human Rights Act was drafted to prevent.

Under the Human Rights Act, claimants are empowered to bring an action in national courts instead of having to take their case before Strasbourg, as had previously been necessary, and would once again be necessary under Mr Cameron’s proposals. As for the ‘margin of appreciation’ which the European Court of Human Rights would afford Mr Cameron’s bill, well, I suggest that the Prime Minister blows the dust from his law reports and takes note of Handyside v. United Kingdom; the Court has allowed for a ‘margin of appreciation’ since 1976 and the Human Rights Act has done nothing to dilute this principle. To me, this policy sweats appeasement. Appeasement of Conservative backbenchers who Mr Cameron is all too worried are about to join Nigel Farage down the pub for a couple of pints of narcissistic guffawing.

Being cynical, perhaps David Cameron’s position in Europe gets to the nub of the issue. After the Juncker fiasco Mr Cameron has undoubtedly been looking for a way to appear tough on Europe. Therefore, what better time to announce the scrapping of the Human Rights Act than now? Of course, Mr Cameron and the Conservatives are hoping nobody notices that the European Union and the Council of Europe are two separate organisations. Sadly, from the political soap box, Europe is Europe, and I predict that the distinction will be lost in a wave of Eurosceptic spittle and Mr Cameron’s sleight of hand will go unnoticed.

Ultimately, the lesson we should learn from the policy is this: when it comes to the Conservatives on Europe in all its forms, save the pinch to wake the country from its Euroscepticism and instead grab a shovel for the salt with which to take Mr Cameron’s words.

DISCLAIMER: The articles on our website are not endorsed by, or the opinions of Shout Out UK (SOUK), but exclusively the views of the author.